It’s been a little over three years since we initially interviewed the “King of Queens” Rodney Torres aka “El Torro”. Since then he’s been active in the community, skating of course, building his brand Torro! and just recently joined our NYSB Cruë. Here’s a little interview with Rodney catching up on a few things. Expect more to come on Rodney’s new NYSB Channel!
Name: Rodney Torres
Hometown: Queens, NY
Current Location: Queens, NY
Years Skating: 27
What’s good Rodney? For those who don’t know, you run Torro Skateboards and just became an official part of the NYSB Cruë. What keeps you motivated to continue giving back to the NY Skate community?
What’s good!.. Yeah man, I run Torro Skateboards and I’m honored to become part of the NY Skateboarding crew. What keeps me motivated to give back to the NY skate community is the passion I have for skateboarding and basically just being from the same place as a lot of people here in NYC. I understand the struggle, and it’s a really great feeling to able to help people and give back to the community through skateboarding.
You’ve been here before the site was even started and everyone seems to have an opinion on New York now, versus back in the day. Do you have any opinion on the state of skate in NY?
Honestly, change is inevitable. There’s no comparison really. I mean, it’s a different time right now. A progressive time. Back in the day, it was grittier and raw. You know? The guys I grew up skating around within Queens and Manhattan were some of the gnarliest skaters of that time. The difference is that we didn’t have the opportunities and resources that are available now.
Now, we have skate park plazas in every borough, a lot more local brands which help the old guys maintain and the new guys come up. We also have millions of skateboarders living in, or moving to New York City to chase the dream. Plus, we have social media and gives people all of the world opportunity to showcase their ability to the masses. It’s definitely not like it used to be. I think it’s all positive and more progressive now. It was a lot harder back then, and there weren’t many of us. Now, it’s a little bit easier and there’s so many of us.
I always see you out, but rarely see you party. Do you have any mantras or practices behind your work ethic?
I just stopped partying and focused my energy on what was important to me. There was a crazy period in my life where partying is all I was doing. I had some crazy things happen that opened up my eyes and made me question what I wanted to do. Party or Skate? I know that for some people that stuff goes hand and hand, but it doesn’t work for me.
Basically, I just keep busy with skating and running Torro. I try to be as hands-on as possible in every aspect of the brand. I try to think of different projects to work on from video and editorial to products and design. I’ve been fortunate to have some great people in my corner to help me with a lot of those things, but I do as much of that as I can on my own.
We recently put out a Halloween video called “MIEDO” which was a lot of fun to make and we also have been working on small video part projects specifically for social media called a “New York Minute”. I would say that my work ethic is just focusing my energy to do what I can for my brand and my mantra is to stay positive and stay in motion.
Was it always that way for you or was that something you learned over time?
I’ve always been persistent when it came down to something I wanted to do. Like a skate trick for example. If I didn’t land the trick the first time around, I’d go back a million times till I get it the way I imagined it. That’s how I’ve always been. Obsessed.. hahaha!. Nah, I guess I just know what I want to do and how I want it to look and feel visually. That takes a lot of energy, but if you want to do something right, you have to go after it until you get it the way you want it. I’ve definitely learned a lot through the years, but I’m still learning every day.
With the New York Minute parts and the Halloween video, Torro has been coming out with increasingly unique video content. What has been the feedback and what can we expect from your channel?
The feedback has been great! People have asked me if we’re going to make a part 2 and 3 of our Halloween video which I didn’t expect, but it’s a good feeling to know that we have been consistently putting out content that leaves people wanting more. The same goes for the New York Minute video clips. A lot of people have been able to get a glimpse of what the team and the talent representing the brand have to offer. The team is sick and social media has been a really good platform for all us collectively. That’s what you can expect from my channel. Unique skate related content that will leave you wanting more.
What was the inspiration for the Halloween video? I heard from a few people they were waiting for the skating to start. Do you think that skaters have become a bit closed minded in regards to what they expect when a skate company drops a video? Is there room for more creativity in that sense…
The inspiration for the Halloween video was to do something fun and different. I grew up watching all of those characters in horror films, comic books, cartoons and superhero movies. My homie Byron owns a lot of those costumes. He spent a lot of money on them, but he’s made it all back entering Halloween costume contests. We met up one day and I told him my idea. He was down. No questions asked. He even reached out to his boy who owns the Jason costume and got him involved. It was pretty organic. I gathered everyone together and we filmed and edited the video all in one day. We started filming at Flushing Meadows around 11pm and were done at 3am. Byron and I started editing the video around 4am and finished it all by 10am. We were all just down to make it happen and it came out sick.
People will have their opinions on just about anything anyone or any brand puts out, but at the end of the day, we’re all just having fun and doing what works for us. Doing it our way. There’s plenty of room for creativity is skateboarding. That is what skateboarding is all about.
If you look back at your experience from your first step on a board to now, what’s the greatest thing you could take away from it and how does that shape the way you mentor some of the younger guys out there?
Looking back, I don’t think I would take away anything because all of it plays a big roll. Experiences for better or for worse create knowledge of self and wisdom for others. Through my experiences (good and bad) is how I’ve been able to help mentor the younger guys. Although our experiences are not all the same and you ultimately have to make your own choices, I have been able to help a lot of younger guys move in a more positive, productive and beneficial direction based on my own personal experiences. To this day, I accept the same kind of advice from the guys I’ve looked up to growing up. I think skateboarders should help each other and work together.
Torro rider Joseph Gil recently went to San Franciso and came back, the city didn’t mesh with him too well. As a board company owner, what do you think companies in New York can do to help make it feasible to have a pro career without having to leave the city?
I don’t think it was the city of San Francisco that didn’t mesh well with Gil. I think Gil just missed home and decided to come back. SF is a beautiful city. I personally love it out there, but for a lot of people, no matter where you are from, there’s no place like home.
I think companies in New York are doing what they can do based on their economic situations and available resources. I think with some more support from the community these local brands can grow and ultimately support a pro career… If they aren’t doing so already. Especially for the skaters who have been loyal and have invested their time and energy into those brands. That equity plays an important role in the success of a brand and the longevity of a pro skate career.
We’ve got our old staple spots and new ones that pop up all the time. What are some of your favorite go-to spots in 2016?
Flushing Meadows is always my go to spot. I can warm up and skate some good flat ground and ledges. There’s also the skate park there which is a lot of fun too. I try to keep it local and skate around in Queens more than anywhere else these days. There are so many spots that have so much potential that haven’t been exposed yet. Harlem and the Bronx have a lot of sick spots too.
Is there still such a thing as a park shark and a poser anymore or has that line of thinking gone out of being relevant?
I dunno. I don’t really pay attention to that stuff. I don’t think like that. If I’m at a skate park, there’s always a lot of people there skating and I’m there to skate too, so I’m just gonna skate and have fun. I’m not there to be judged or judge others. The best thing about skateboarding is skateboarding. If you’re having fun then don’t worry about what others may think.
Alright, give us your honest opinion, what do you like best about our site and what do you think we can work on? Where do you see yourself in that equation?
I like the NYSB site. I think it’s a great media outlet that keeps everyone informed with what’s going on in the NYC skate community and supports the local brands. I will definitely add to that with my channel by creating more original skate related content from Torro Skateboards along with more skate video contributions from the NYC skate scene.
Well, we look forward to continuing improving and are happy to have you on board. Any last words for the people reading this?
Cool. Thanks man! Shout out to all of the riders, shops and distributors that support Torro Skateboards. The New York and World Wide skateboarding community and to the people reading this. Peace! Go skate and have fun!
Thanks and welcome to the family!